22 September 2016

Winter Wardrobe Sewing: the Moderne Dress

Flashback Summer: The Moderne Dress - Wearing History, 1930s vintage art deco fashion

Flashback Summer: The Moderne Dress - Wearing History, 1930s vintage art deco fashion

I have begun the fall/winter sewing extravaganza, and I've finished my first project!  This is made using the Moderne Art Deco Dress pattern from Wearing History, a pattern I've had in my stash for a while but have yet to make up until now. 

THIS. IS. SUCH. A. COOL. PATTERN.

It seems many of us really love the unique details of 1930s garments, but there aren't many sewing patterns out to help us recreate those truly fabulous early- to mid-30s Art Deco features.  This pattern is full of them!  (If you'd like to skip ahead, I have a TLDR summary of the sewing and outfit details at the bottom.)


Flashback Summer: The Moderne Dress - Wearing History, 1930s vintage art deco fashion

The Pattern

It comes in two versions, and I made version 1.  The pattern description says it is a military-inspired look, and that drew me to it even more.  It definitely has the silhouette of a WWI uniform mixed with Art Deco lines, and it's such a unique combination.  I especially love it because it's impossible to buy this kind of look anywhere right now; you really have to stumble across a true vintage piece or make it yourself.  


Flashback Summer: The Moderne Dress - Wearing History, 1930s vintage art deco fashion

Flashback Summer: The Moderne Dress - Wearing History, 1930s vintage art deco fashion

Instructions & Fabric

The instructions were clear for me as an advanced sewist, except for one step which I will elaborate on below.  The only problems I encountered really didn't stem from the pattern; they came from the fabric I used.  I found this polyester fabric on sale for $4, so I figured it would make a great winter dress.  Polyester like this is terrible at any time of year except when it's cold, and the suede texture just seemed wintery to me. The low price made me feel good about this being a "wearable muslin" that, should it work out, would also fit well into my wardrobe.

However, the polyester content made it nearly impossible to iron.  This pattern has several sharp angles and interesting seams which don't appear as crisp on my version due to the polyester refusing to be tamed by any heat or steam level.  There are also a lot of wrinkles, particularly where I blind-hemmed the facings to the insides around the cuffs, hem, and front facing.  I pressed and pressed, but they just won't go away.   I've decided to be alright with it, but I don't want it to be a reflection on this pattern!  It's not the pattern's fault; it's all the dumb polyester.


Flashback Summer: The Moderne Dress - Wearing History, 1930s vintage art deco fashion

Flashback Summer: The Moderne Dress - Wearing History, 1930s vintage art deco fashion

The Pattern Sizing

I was also surprised at how the sizing worked out.  Wearing History patterns are "resto-vival" patterns, meaning they have been graded to a larger size range and may have very small tweaks in the pattern or instructions to make it clearer and better-fitting for a modern sewist. However, they are very, very close to the original pattern as far as proportions go, and this seems to be especially apparent in this pattern. 

My measurements are 32-24-36, and I sized down to the smallest size, based on a 30 bust. The hips are a tiny bit snug, but this sizing down worked out fine for me.


Flashback Summer: The Moderne Dress - Wearing History, 1930s vintage art deco fashion


Flashback Summer: The Moderne Dress - Wearing History, 1930s vintage art deco fashion

My Pattern Adjustments 

Normally, due to my petite size and frame, I have to do a lot of bodice adjustments.  However, I didn't change anything out of the envelope when it came to the width of the shoulders and length of the bodice, measurements I usually have to decrease.  I'm quite happy with the fit, but this also means that those of you that tend toward a more average proportion may need to double check these before cutting.

I'd also suggest checking the wrist and neck circumferences if you choose to make this version.  I have what my mother affectionately calls a "pencil neck" and "chicken wrists," meaning they are quite tiny.  The neck has just the right amount of room for me when closed with hooks and eyes, and the wrists are also fitted with their cufflink-like button closures.  However, I do suggest if you have more average sized wrists and neck that you increase these a bit or move the buttonholes out on the cuffs a smidge.


Flashback Summer: The Moderne Dress - Wearing History, 1930s vintage art deco fashion

I also have some tips for you when it comes to the sleeve length!  I removed half of the length from above the elbow and the other half from right below it. I didn't adjust the curved bottom part of the sleeve hem , so the point comes up higher on my arm than in the pattern illustration. 

My arm is 19" long from shoulder to wrist, and I made my sleeve pattern piece the same length (not including seam allowances).  I figured with the cuff being so closely fitted at the bottom that I wouldn't want much extra length that would cause wrinkles... but it didn't turn out that way.  While the sleeves are fabulously full and interestingly shaped, I would make them 1-2" longer next time to fully extend to my wrist bone.  I would also shorten the curve at the cuff to preserve the sleeve design lines and make them resemble the illustration more.  So learn from me!  Make the sleeve 1-2" longer than your arm measurement!

Lastly, I shortened the skirt by about 3", as is customary in nearly all my sewing. I retained the mid-calf 30s length to keep proportions correct.  You can also see that I did a deep, blind hem.  Stupid polyester won't iron properly, otherwise it would really be a blind hem. Grrrrr.


Flashback Summer: The Moderne Dress - Wearing History, 1930s vintage art deco fashion

Flashback Summer: The Moderne Dress - Wearing History, 1930s vintage art deco fashion

Tricky Pattern Steps

The only tricky part I really encountered in the pattern had to do with the skirt vent and the triple pleats in there.  Honestly, I couldn't wrap my mind around how they're supposed to be inserted, and I'm still not sure I did it right. However, the pleats make the skirt really easy to walk in while still keeping the iconic slim-hipped, long-lined 30s silhouette.  I also ended up stitching the edges of the pleats to keep them in place because the darn polyester refused to be ironed!!!


Flashback Summer: The Moderne Dress - Wearing History, 1930s vintage art deco fashion

Finishing Notions

I finished off the dress with five 1930s vintage buttons that look remarkably similar to the sample on the Wearing History website.  I used mismatched black buttons on the wrists because it's what I've got, and I think that lends a nice Depression-Era accuracy to it.  I also tracked down a belt buckle that coordinates pretty well with the buttons and constructed a snap-on belt to match.

Outfit Styling

I really love the mid-30s and happened to have garments to coordinate.  I wore some authentic 1930s heels and carried a fabulous albeit crumbling 1920s purse that melts my heart.  For my hat, I took a modern bucket hat/cloche thing I had been given and pinned up one side of the brim with hat pins.  It's not as good as a hat blocked in 1930s style to begin with, but it is a quick way to get the look of the era without breaking the bank.


Flashback Summer: The Moderne Dress - Wearing History, 1930s vintage art deco fashion

Flashback Summer: The Moderne Dress - Wearing History, 1930s vintage art deco fashion


Here is a summary of the pattern details and things I changed:
Fabric: polyester faux suede
Pattern: Wearing History "Moderne" Art Deco Dress (I used the e-pattern)
Year: mid-1930s
Notions: five buttons, belt buckle, snaps
How historically accurate is it? The pattern, obviously, along with the construction are quite accurate to the mid-1930s.  The polyester content of my faux suede fabric, however, is absolutely not!
Any tricky parts to the pattern?  I only had trouble with the pleats in the front of the skirt. I'm still not exactly sure how that is to be inserted....
Did you change anything?  I shortened the sleeves and skirt to fit my short self
Time to complete: about three days. There are a lot of little details and pieces to this pattern, so I'd advise going slow and taking your time!
First worn: 19 September 2016
Total cost: The fabric was on sale for $4/yd, and I used about 3 yds, so $12. I won the pattern in a photo contest, and I think the buttons were given to me. The belt buckle was $5, and I'll say all the other notions were $5. Total = $22.
Notes: I've gone into great detail above!  This is a fantastically unique pattern!

Flashback Summer: The Moderne Dress - Wearing History, 1930s vintage art deco fashion

Have you sewn this pattern or know of someone else who has?  (If so, share a link, por favor!)  Do you think the Art Deco lines and military inspiration are showing through?

21 September 2016

New Shades from GlassesUSA

Flashback Summer: New Shades from GlassesUSA


Flashback Summer: New Shades from GlassesUSA

I'm one of those people that never buys nice sunglasses.  I get those cheap, $10 glasses, and I wear them for a few months.  They get scratched up because I just throw them in my purse, and my most recent pair are so foggy-lensed and rickety that they barely stay on my face!

I SHALL NEVER GO BACK TO SUCH SUNGLASSES AGAIN.

I was offered a pair of complementary sunglasses by GlassesUSA, and I didn't really think there would be a huge difference in quality because, come on, sunglasses are sunglasses, right?

Well, I will admit I was wrong.  The sunglasses I picked, "Miranda" in blue-turquoise, are way nicer than the bargain sunglasses I've been buying.  They're thicker plastic with sturdier hinges, and they even come with a fancy heavy-duty case that I can throw in my purse without fearing for the lenses.  (They also come in a beige-pink combo!)


Flashback Summer: New Shades from GlassesUSA

Flashback Summer: New Shades from GlassesUSA

GlassesUSA is not a specifically "retro" glasses site, but they have several styles that are appropriate for vintage looks.  They also have the ability to put prescription lenses in any of the glasses or sunglasses frames, too, so that's a perk for any of you that may need them.

I love the look of the rounded, 30s/40s sunglasses, but they're difficult to come by and I feel they don't always suit my rounder face well.  I picked these particular sunglasses because the larger frames block more sun, and the slightly pointed corners seem to de-round my face a bit.  I also like the bit of blue on the inside; it's a fun touch while keeping the rest of the glasses more versatile for matching my winter coats.


Flashback Summer: New Shades from GlassesUSA

I'm SO glad to have a new pair of sunglasses for winter.  While we usually think of sunglasses with summer, a winter sun's bright rays reflecting off of clouds and snow can cause major squinting and mess with your eyes.  These glasses are going to keep me from going snow-blind AND help me look cute all at once!

What kind of sunglasses do you pair with your vintage looks?  Do you usually go for vintage or reproduction, or do you go a bit more modern like I did?

P.S. Yes, details on this outfit will be in the next post, so hold your horses and stay tuned!

A collaboration with GlassesUSA has made this post possible! These sunglasses were c/o GlassesUSA, but all the opinions are honest and my own. You can read more about my sponsorship policies here.

19 September 2016

Season-Ahead Wardrobe Planning

Flashback Summer: Season-Ahead Vintage Wardrobe Planning

Last year I was caught horribly unaware by the cold weather.  Of course, I knew winter was coming (it does come every year), but I didn't realize how little warm clothing I actually had in my wardrobe until I really needed it.  I ended up making do and shivering through a lot of the season when I should have been enjoying it!

Well, not this year!  I will not be caught unaware!  I've already started planning and sewing for my fall and winter wardrobe, and I've done it in my naturally doodley and charty way.  I've been strategic so I can answer these three questions:

Flashback Summer: Season-Ahead Vintage Wardrobe Planning

In this post I'll be sharing my planning process with you guys by focusing on each box I drew on my wardrobe-planning page. First up:

Flashback Summer: Season-Ahead Vintage Wardrobe Planning 

What do I need that I can sew?
I thought about last year and the things I complained about. I looked through the clothes I still have and wrote down the gaps.  Currently, I really need the items listed above.

Flashback Summer: Season-Ahead Vintage Wardrobe Planning

Next, What do I have on hand?
What things do I already have in my stash, notions, accessories, and in my pattern collection that I can use for the upcoming season?  I found some fur trims I've never used, as well as a lot of solid fabrics and some patterned fabrics I can use.  I also marked down items that I would wear more if they were altered, mended, or refashioned.

Flashback Summer: Season-Ahead Vintage Wardrobe Planning

After this, I then considered what I needed to buy to finish these sewing projects and fill in my wardrobe gaps.  I need a couple patterns, some accessories, and some wet-weather gear.

Knowing all of this helps me budget out the finances and plan when to buy which items.  I can also keep an eye out for sales and deals when I know for sure what I need to be looking for!

Flashback Summer: Season-Ahead Vintage Wardrobe Planning

Now for the fun: What colors do I want to use?
I want my fall and winter wardrobe pieces to kind of mix and match, to coordinate enough that I have some options.  I picked the colors above because, obviously, I like them, but also because they were repeated in fabrics in my stash. I pulled out the fabrics with enough yardage and a coordinating color and put the others back for another time.

I also considered things I already have that could mix and match with some stash fabrics, like how this rayon perfectly matches a sweater vest I made:

Flashback Summer: Season-Ahead Vintage Wardrobe Planning

This pairing will help an autumnal dress transition to colder weather. I made sure to pick a pattern that would look good under the sweater for just that reason!

Flashback Summer: Season-Ahead Vintage Wardrobe Planning

And this is the part that brings it all together!  I looked at the things I need, the patterns I have, and the fabrics I've got to work with.  I began pairing fabrics with appropriate patterns, making sure there's enough yardage.  I also made a point to use patterns more than once for several items.  This makes the sewing a lot more efficient!  

I know this is an ambitious list, but I like having options on what to make while also knowing the pieces I do end up making will work for my wardrobe in the long run. 

Here are a few fabric/pattern pairings I have planned:

Flashback Summer: Season-Ahead Vintage Wardrobe Planning

Flashback Summer: Season-Ahead Vintage Wardrobe Planning

Then, for the last step I prepared with something I'll need for every single project: measurements!  I measured myself again and included different skirt lengths to coordinate with the different decades I like to sew for, particularly the 30s and 40s this season.  



This makes it a lot faster to adjust patterns as I go if I just reference this drawing instead of having to check with a measuring tape every time.

If you aren't sure on some harder-to-decide measurements like skirt and sleeve length, you can measure some garments that fit you well already.  I love the length of this 1930s dress and this 1940s dress, so I put those on the drawing for future reference.

Here are measurements you'll probably want:

Waist
Bust
Hips
Long sleeve length (short sleeve, 3/4 length)
Shoulder width
Shoulder-to-waist length
Pants length
Skirt length

These are optional, depending on your pattern:
Neck circumference
Bicep circumference
Trouser rise
Wrist circumference

Flashback Summer: Season-Ahead Vintage Wardrobe Planning

And I'm proud to announce, I've already made my first item off the list!  I'll be sharing it here soon.  Stay tuned!

Are you planning for the upcoming season's wardrobe changes?  How do you choose what to make or buy?